Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

pitcairn to boston

This week I finished Caroline Alexander's "The Bounty", an interesting non-fiction re-spin on the "mutiny on the Bounty" story. British naval stories of a certain era always make me think of the admixture in those settings of complex civilization and pure barbarity, but then I always think that a future generation will think the same of our time. I remember reading a Reader's Digest condensed for kids version of "Mutiny on the Bounty" when I was a kid, and being struck by the notion that at the conclusion of the naval trials, the accused could tell before sentencing if he was to be condemned by which way the admiral's spyglass pointed when he was ushered in for sentence to be announced.

I read Robert Frost's first two volumes of poetry, enjoying the second, "North of Boston", far more than the first. "The Death of the Hired Man", which I'd not read in years, always seems to me a very fine poem. I must go and read the third volume, as "the road not taken" and other favorite Frost lines occur in that volume. I noticed in the biographical snippets that Frost became in later life a kind of parody of himself in the public eye, and I wondered if anyone can obtain fame and not seem ridiculous.

I received in the mail my eBay purchase of the chapbook about the King's Gambit Declined: Adelaide Counter-Gambit, by a Mr. Lonsdale from Canada. The King's Gambit is a wild attacking opening, much beloved in the 19th Century by players such as Paul Morphy, the insane American chess world champion. The Adelaide Counter-gambit (also called the Miles system) meets wild attack with absurd riposte. It's not in my style at all, but it is funny to read the games. Unfortunately, the author merely arranges games he has located into move order, and provides no commentary. I understand why this could occur, as the author, as near as I can tell, is an expert rather than a master, and may wish to avoid presumption.

I have had since 1999 the idea of writing a similar chapbook, called "The Small Center System", but with an entirely different approach. I would write it as a broad satire upon chess opening books, in which I announce that a strategy is amazing, and should be employed by all. I already have my "hook line" (which I hope is not a sinker)--"The Small Center Opening--nearly guaranteed to allow you to last until the fifth move!". I also got in the mail a book on the Lasker's Defense to the Queen's Gambit, which is just grand. I have always had good fortune playing the Lasker's.

I played a lot of on-line blitz chess yesterday. I won 8 straight, and then got tired, and started losing hand over fist. My problem remains simply on the tactical side, which I will fix. It almost does not matter what opening I play--it's simply a matter of not dropping pieces. I'm slowly regaining confidence, although not yet getting any rating points.

I'm now reading Joseph Ellis' "The Founding Brothers", which reminds me that the revolutionary generation of Americans were complex and fractious fellows. It's a comfort to me, somehow, to remember that each generation fights the darkness in a different way, but the darkness is always there to be fought. It's similarly a comfort that in many instances, neither side of a debate is wholly blessed with the light.

We had a dinner at Applebee's, where they have a menu that counts weight watcher pointws for one. I was able to have skewers of shrimp with very few calories. My first week of eating in a more healthy way worked out quite well. We went to see "Guess Who", the remake of the classic 60s "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", with the ethnicities of the parent and the boyfriend reversed. I found it quite uneven, but the laughs that did arise were deep and worth the price of admission.

This morning is Easter Sunday. I like the sense of quiet renewal I associate with his holiday. Perhaps we'll go to church, although my mother used to say that Easter is the Sunday when it is permissible to stay home, to make room for those who only attend one service a year. We attend more than one a year, but not as often as we could/should, so that her aphorism may not be appropriate authority for us to invoke.

I remember as a child in Gurdon, Arkansas that the Easter services would not only fill the sanctuary usually half-filled, but also result in worshippers sitting in folding chairs in the church foyer. Today the wonderful somber Lenten hymns like "Were You There" give way to hymns of joy like "Christ the Lord is Risen Today". It's quite a lyrical shift from "sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble" over to "alleluia".

In my childhood, the Easter basket would always have a huge chocolate bunny, and ample candy of nearly every description. In later years, a cassette tape might be in the basket someplace, with music on it. I love chocolate eggs. We'd dye Easter eggs, although mine always had a kind of rough tie-dye appearance.

The rain falls for the second weekend day in a row. To me, it always seems in March as though the weekdays are pristine and the weekends rainy. Yet last weekend the weather was close to pristine.

This week just past proved quite tiring. I'm glad to have this day of rest.

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